Another day, another sunrise. This does not get old people. We left Ames for Nevada in heavy bike traffic and light headwinds.
Nevada’s downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places. Billy Sunday the famous White Sox baseball player and evangelist graduated from high school there.
As anticipated, the inviting aromas of breakfast from churches, charities and vendors netted a fair share of bikers in Nevada. We pressed on in lighter traffic and enjoyed more great views when we crossed Indian Creek.
We had breakfast and caught up with friends in Colo. Colo hails itself as the crossroads of America. It’s where the Lincoln and Jefferson Highways intersect. On the way out of town I stopped to snap a picture of the restored Niland’s Café. It’s been providing travelers with gas, food and lodging since the 1920’s.
There were plenty of photo op’s in State Center. State Center is both the geographic center and the Rose Capital of Iowa. Their theme is “Thorn to be wild.” I took a picture friends from Ankeny, Randy and Patti Harvey in front the sign designating the state center. We watched a few bikers climb the National Guard climbing tower than rolled on.
In Melbourne I talked to some locals trying to raise money to build a miniature replica of their iconic “Mousehole.” The train bridge had to be torn down a few years ago. We just missed their annual celebration, “Mousehole Days.”
I saw Santa Claus on the ride today and it seems Rudolph is out of work because he was on a bike. He let me take a picture of him in his red jersey, white beard and tasseled helmet. When I asked he said, “yes, I do get offered milk and cookies along the way.”
Did you know there is a RAGBRAI tradition of marking the outline of road kill with beads? I’d love to snap a picture for you, but with 8000 bikes on my tail it’s not safe, and I don’t think I’d look good in beads.
I took a rest in Baxter before pushing for the final stretch to Newton.
Our ride was 59.1 miles. We’re more than half way. Today was hump day. I just wish that meant it was all downhill from here. The consensus at camp is that the hills were tough.
News flash, RAGBRAI is not for wimps. Yes, it’s physically demanding, but I’m not referring to the ride itself. So as not to mislead you by painting a too idealistic image of RAGBRAI, there is tenting in the rain, portable toilets, and no running water or mirrors with which to shave. Then there are the showers. Our showers, which we wait in line to enjoy, are a 3’ by 3’ tent with a grass (read mud) floor. There is a one bucket limit and I haven’t had a warm one yet.
Regarding the physical demands. I’m still feeling good, just a little bit sore in the saddle. On that subject, I’m struck by the riders. They come in all ages, shapes, sizes, colors, abilities and disabilities. I say to myself, “if they can do this, I can do this.” I’m sure look at me and say, “if he can do this, I can do this.” We’ve all been bitten by the biking bug and there will be no shortcuts. We’re not going to quit until we’ve ridden every last mile.
More on Newton tomorrow. I’m hungry and out of words. Back to camping tonight. 50% chance of rain.